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WVU researcher: Rare earth minerals key to W.Va. future

Steven Allen Adams, for The Journal of Martinsburg

MORGANTOWN. W.Va. — With steam coal being replaced by natural gas and renewables, and a slowdown in metallurgical coal mining for steelmaking, a researcher at West Virginia University sees another use for the state’s coal mines.

Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute, discusses the potential of mines to produce elements needed for modern technology.

Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute at WVU, spoke to members of the press Monday at WVU’s Academic Media Day in Morgantown. The institute is part of WVU’S Energy Institute.

Ziemkiewicz’ presentation focused on a possible use for West Virginia’s coal mines as sources for rare earth elements. These elements are used in the manufacturing of electronic devices, such as smartphones, tablets, computers, and other modern technologies. Rare earth elements are also used in many clean-energy technologies, such as wind turbines and electric vehicles. Magnets produced from rare earth elements are used for military applications. …

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